Cyber Monday, When It Starts, and Current Trends

The Biggest Shopping Day of the Year

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The first Monday after Thanksgiving was christened Cyber Monday by Shop.org in 2005. At that time, not everyone had high-speed internet connections. As connection speeds have gotten faster—and more mobile—online shopping has increased, especially on Cyber Monday. 

It was the biggest shopping day of the year in both 2017 and 2018, surpassing Black Friday. Cyber Monday shopping has started earlier every year.

Nearly a third of shoppers begin Cyber Monday on the day before.

Top stores like Walmart, Amazon, and Target start cyber week sales on Thanksgiving Day itself. The best way to get in on their deals is to sign up for their email newsletters.

Sales Trends

Cyber Monday has set new records each year since its inception. Since 2009, Cyber Monday sales have seen more than an eightfold increase, according to Adobe Digital Insights, which tracks and publishes research into online marketing and sales:

YearSales (in billions)Comments
2009$0.887 
2010$1.038First time topping $1 billion in sales
2011$1.317% increase
2012$1.5Mobile devices 12.9% of sales
2013$2.2920% increase; Black Friday sales down
2014$2.5 
2015$3.04Discounts on mobile devices
2016$5.6 
2017$6.59 
2018$7.9$2.2 billion in smartphone sales

Why Cyber Monday Is so Popular

Cyber Monday shoppers are very clear about why they like the day. More than 40% of time-strapped shoppers said the 24-hour convenience is their highest priority, according to Adobe Digital Insights.

Almost as many listed their desire to avoid the crowds on Black Friday as their primary reason for shopping online. Almost a third of online shoppers said they like the ability to easily compare prices.

The strong results on Cyber Monday are because of the aggressive sales offered by retailers with an online presence.

Almost 90% of retailers offered Cyber Monday sales. Forty-five percent of retailers offered coupons or a percentage discount while more than one-third had limited-time-only promotions. Fewer than 15% promoted a free gift with purchase.

More than half of retailers offered to increase their "free shipping" budget, while one-third of retailers offered free shipping even earlier than ever, and 36% of shoppers surveyed said they'd increase their online shopping only if shipping were free.

Only a few online shoppers said they would buy less due to expensive shipping charges. Others didn't like that they weren't able to see or handle their purchases ahead of time. Some customers didn't like having to wait for their items to be shipped.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

Shoppers are using social media more than ever. Almost one-third said they would go to a company's Facebook page to get additional information about Cyber Monday sales. Twice as many would look at customer reviews on the company's website before buying any products or services.

Online retailers respond to shoppers' use of mobile technology and social media by promoting there. More than half of retailers made sure their website sales were optimized for mobile devices.

Another 20% optimize for tablet device apps. More than a third use QR codes in magazine and billboard ads.

Online retailers also maximized their use of social media. Almost three-quarters said they'd promote sales on their Facebook pages while more than 40% promoted on Twitter.

According to the National Retail Federation Annual Survey, 40% of tablet users compare prices, while 20% redeem coupons. Most important, almost a third buy online using their tablets.

How to Get the Best Cyber Monday Deals

Retail sales can be found on CyberMonday.com, which features a schedule of which retailers offer deals at what times in a "Deal of the Hour" promotion. You can find sales from more than 800 online retailers.

ComScore, which tracks online media, reports that more than half of the deals consist of free shipping.

Retailers also offered various price discounts. Other offers included free gifts with purchase.

Impact on Retail

Cyber Monday reflects the growth of internet retailing. By 2020, it is expected to reach $523 billion, growing almost 10% annually. The increasing power of cell phones is driving that growth. In 2017, people in 16 countries said that 60% of their “everyday transactions” occurred in a digital form instead of a store.

The success of internet retailing spells doom for brick-and-mortar stores. In 2018, former J.C. Penney CEO Mike Ullman said that only 25% of America's 1,200 shopping malls will survive over the next five years. Those that do will serve the highest-earning 20%. Ullman said that only malls that can attract an Apple or Tesla store would survive.

In 2018, retailers filed for bankruptcy at record-high rates. Well-known brands such as Nine West, Claire's, and Toys R Us announced bankruptcy in the first four months of the year.